Experts say that no evidence from Merck’s trials has shown this to be the case, but it is theoretically possible that the vaccine might have a therapeutic effect.
Explore This IssueJuly 2010
Douglas Lowy, MD, an expert on the HPV vaccine for the National Cancer Institute, called on otolaryngologists to test the possibility in controlled trials. “What I do think would be worthwhile for the otolaryngology community to consider is the possibility of a controlled trial in children with newly diagnosed RRP, a controlled trial of the vaccine,” Dr. Lowry said. “The goal would be to try to reduce the likelihood of spread to new areas,” he said, pointing out that he was speaking for himself and not the government. “I have no idea whether it would work or it wouldn’t work but it seems to me that this is a serious enough condition that… it would be worth considering it.”
Farrel Buchinsky, MD, assistant professor of surgery at Drexel University College of Medicine, is now studying antibody response in both vaccinated and unvaccinated RRP patients. He hopes the study can show whether further work investigating a therapeutic use of the vaccine is worthwhile.
“We have the data, and I’m busy analyzing,” said Dr. Buchinsky, who anticipates finishing a manuscript for the study in the coming months. “Even if there is great data, it still may or may not work. What this data will do is serve to increase or decrease enthusiasms for a therapeutic trial.”
Experts on the disease agree that the vaccine should not be used for preventing the spread of lesions until solid research has been finished.
“When people inquire to me about this,” said Craig Derkay, MD, professor of otolaryngology and pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School, “I tell them that we really should study this in a way that we pool the data and answer this in a scientific fashion. There have been a lot of false starts in the treatment of RRP over the years.”
—Thomas R. Collins